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Friday, July 02, 2004

Some Public Comments Wanted

This would have been yesterdays post, but I had the choice of seriousness or fun due to the limited time before sleep. I choose fun. And now for the seriousness.

I would like to note that the Indianapolis Star or IndyGov or both should have a column or webpage that announces all the meetings that will occur in a week that public comments are wanted on. Seeing a little blurb on page B2 Thursday for the Transit Task Force meeting at 5:30pm that day is not much notice! Sometimes I think that government doesn't want to hear from the people given how hard it is to find out about meetings of interest. I have odd fascination with public transportation. I refuse to use it here because IndyGoNowhere sucks. Hence why they are in the Links of Shame. Yet I am a major proponet of a viable, multimodal, inexpensive transit system that could be shared by all the citizens of the Indy metro region. What can I say, I loved the subways of London and Paris and their ability to get me wherever I wanted to go. I've attended various meetings on the proposed rapid transit system that everyone has been talking about building for 5 years now. Will you just build the damn thing?

I signed up to have 3 minutes of speaking time. I wish I had time to at least change into a good shirt and dockers, but instead we're living with shorts and a t-shirt for the advocate. For what appeared to be short notice there were easily 150 people there. The purpose of the meeting was to look forward and discuss what we, the citizens of Indianapolis, would want from a public transit system. You knew from the crowd that most were going to talk about the past and how IndyGo has been crap, and how the cutbacks in service have affected them. After going through the printed pages of a powerpoint presentation the public was allowed to comment. The first person was a female reverend who started her time with a singing prayer. Oh my, what have I wandered into? There were angry people speaking about how the loss of the bus had screwed them. There was the middle-aged hippy woman. There were those who challenged Mayor Bart (D'oh!) Peterson and the City-County Council to ride the bus everywhere for a month. Others thought the government had conspired against poor black folks. We even had Pat Pritchett, the Indianapolis Public School Superintendent, speak for the needs of improved transit to allow students better access to education.

After an hour it was my turn. I had no pencil, no paper, no bullet points, just a mental list of a few quick items that I wanted to highlight. Damn if I only had been better prepared. I spoke of the well-documented past analysis of the problem, and pleaded with this board to finally act on the information they had. The time for study was over. The time for action was now. To be a true world-class city an efficient, multi-modal system, such as enhanced bus service, rapid transit rail, rails to trails, city streets re-laned to accommodate alternative transportation, and construction and repair of sidewalks, would all be required for this effort. I spoke of the fact that the Indianapolis Star just printed a story in which the Indy metro area had been recently cited by the Envrionmental Protection Agency for being in non-compliance with soot particulate and ozone regulations. I spoke that I would rather see my tax money going to invest in viable public transit than in paying the tremendous fines the EPA would levy upon us. I spoke that the money would be an investment and not a expense. I reiterated that the time of action was now and the clock had already started.

I received a fairly strong applause from the crowd actually. Oh, and I had about a minute to spare.

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